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More time for patients

Medical secretaries at the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) have more time to devote to patients after the Trust became the first in the UK to use Robotic Process Automation to support staff in their day-to-day activities.

Five virtual workers at Ipswich Hospital are now being used to automate administrative tasks in Cardiology, Urology, Neurology, Nephrology and Haematology.

In Neurology, for example, RPA is being used to process GP referrals. A robot monitors the electronic referral system 24/7 and when a new one comes in, it gathers key clinical data and downloads several documents, which it then records in the Evolve system for clinical review.

Previously, medical secretaries had to print out the documents and then scan them into Evolve, which could take 10 to 20 minutes per referral.

Clinical Neurology medical secretary Chris Harvey says RPA has freed time up to spend on other things. “We can be on the phones, writing letters or talking to patients – we’re more available. It gives you more time to be doing all the other things you have got to do,” she said.

There have also been significant benefits for medical staff, as staff grade neurologist Dr Petr Pokorny explains: “It’s more efficient and practical and there’s a more fluent flow of work. it’s easier to have five referrals to deal with every morning than a huge pile of 35 once a week. You save time, you save money and there’s less risk of something being lost from a pile of paper.”

ESNEFT now plans to use RPA to automate repetitive, time consuming tasks in other areas of its operations, such as Clinical Coding, HR Processes and Service Desks.